Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Title / Red Sister
Author / Mark Lawrence
Publication Date / 2017
Star Rating / 
Goodreads synopsis: At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.
But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse. Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…


This is the first book in the Book of the Ancestor series and is my first book by this author. I have been aware of him for a while but I’ve been a bit unsure whether to read his first trilogy (The Broken Empire trilogy). I’ve heard the main character is pretty nasty – apparently he rapes two woman at the very start of the book and I’m not sure that is a character I want to read about. I don’t mind dark characters but I cannot get behind a character who would do that. Anyway when I heard he was coming out with a new series I was immediately interested. I didn’t know a whole lot about it but the blurb sounded interesting. I thought this was a fantastic book. The writing was great and easy to get into. I find sometimes with new authors it can take me some time to get into the flow of the writing but I had no such issues with this book. The narrative mainly follows Nona and I really enjoyed watching things unfold from her eyes. We see much of the plot develop within the convent Nona enters early in the book. Subsequently alot of the book is the development of the characters and the introduction to this new world, if that makes any sense. Basically it can be a little slow at times, as there is a lot of information given to the reader. There is quite some time spent reading about Nona’s lessons on various topics, from history to fighting. Personally I never had an issue with this. I don’t mind slower plots, as long as the world building and writing can push it forward. It is something to be aware of though, if you are not a fan of slower pacing. It is all part of the set up of the book and I thought it was well done.


There are quite a few interesting/intriguing characters and I enjoyed their progression throughout the book. I loved Nona as the main character. Lawrence has created an incredible cast of characters – all of which are complex, flawed and well written. The development of the characters throughout the book was so well done and I am so excited to see how they progress in future books.  The magic system was an interesting one, which I feel will further expand in the next books. It is a pretty complex magic system and I have to admit that I got a little muddled with it. Having said that I do think it is well thought out, it is just a little dense.  The world building was done very well. The set up of a new world is so important and I think Lawrence did a great job with this one. While we do spend most of the book in the convent, the outside world is explored through tales and a few flashbacks, so we get a wider understanding of the world.  The ending was fantastic and is a great set up to the next book. I am excited to see where things will go from here and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.


Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this new world. I was quite quickly immersed with the world and characters, and the plot was engaging throughout. As I have mentioned it is a little slow at times but it never dragged. I’m now contemplating checking out his other series but I’m still not sure I can put aside the nastiness of the main character. I will definitely be checking out the next book in this series and to be honest I’m a little sad for the wait now. I’m sure I’ll survive though :). I highly recommend checking this book out, especially if you love fantasy. Have you read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.





10 thoughts on “Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

  1. Super excited to read this! I really enjoyed Prince of Thorns to be honest – it was pretty gruesome though. The rape bit isn’t graphic, it’s just acknowledged as a part of warfare. It crops up in a lot of feudal fantasy in worse ways – some parts of Game of Thrones especially can be tough to read. I don’t hate Jorg yet but I can see he has the capacity to get worse – he went through some bad times when he was young and it has shaped him into a ruthless man who wants revenge. I can definitely see why it’s grimdark – very violent at times! Makes me glad i wasn’t a soldier in medieval times haha 🙂 i grew attached to certain characters in the story much like it seems you did in Red Sister so i’d say his writing is consistent 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I think you’ll really enjoy it! Oh OK that’s good to know. I’ll have to try it out at some point – that’s another book to add to my TBR 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read so many great reviews of this book and I’m so excited to read it! Glad you enjoyed it! I actually really enjoyed The Broken Empire trilogy, yep there are definitely some hard scenes to read and Jorg is not a hero in any way. There are no excuses for his actions but over the course of the three books you get more of an insight into his character!

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  3. If you do read/review the Broken Empire trilogy, I’d be really interested in how you contrast/compare these 2 series. I read the first book, Prince of thorns, back in ’11 and had such a reaction to it that I’ve never even thought about touching another Lawrence book since.
    All these great reviews for Red Sister are making me re-think my position though…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review, I loved Red Sister and think it’s his most accessible book yet. I’m a massive Lawrence fan though and have loved all his books, Jorg definitely is a crazy psychopath in The Broken Empire trilogy but he’s also such a captivating character to, certainly worth giving it a go. 😀


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